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Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Passengers trapped in Tube trauma
London Underground
The Underground's narrow tunnels made evacuation difficult
Safety chiefs and London Underground have launched an investigation after more than 2,000 commuters were trapped in three "sweltering" rush hour Tube trains for more than two hours.

The ordeal began after an eastbound train on London's Central Line broke down shortly after 1800 BST on Monday evening between Bank and Liverpool Street stations, causing two more trains to become stuck in the tunnel behind.

The further back they went the hotter the conditions got

Jim Bascran, London Fire Brigade
Two hours later hundreds of passengers were freed by rescue services and escaped onto Liverpool Street Station platform.

Fire officers said 13 casualties had to be treated on the platform for hyperventilation, heat stress and shock, while three casualties were taken to hospital and one was unconscious.

Major delays

The problem is believed to have been caused by a blown fuse in the broken down train, which also caused more than 100,000 commuters to be delayed after the Central Line had to be shut for nearly four hours.

London Underground said the incident had been regrettable but the narrow Victorian-built tunnels meant passengers could only be let off through the front of each train.

Further delays were caused because the electrical supply to the tracks had to be switched off in case anyone fell on the line while crossing between trains.

'Safely evacuated'

Jim Bascran, assistant divisional officer with the London Fire Brigade, said firefighters were mobilised at 1922 BST to assist with the emergency.

He said: "There were approximately 2,000 passengers involved. They were evacuated to safety.

"As they went through the trains the further back they went the hotter the conditions got."

One passenger's ordeal

David Rix, from Epping, Essex was one of dozens treated afterwards by paramedics.

He said: "It was very hot - sweltering. It was very hard. I was standing up the whole time.

"I lost the use of my fingers and had tingling down both my arms, I was hyperventilating apparently."

A spokeswoman for London Underground said: "We want to apologise to all the passengers involved.

"Unfortunately there are only single tracks on the Underground because the tunnels were built so long ago.

"When you have several hundred people to evacuate it takes a long time."

In a separate incident on Tuesday afternoon, around 50 people were safely evacuated from a train just outside Leeds after a carriage caught fire.

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Fire Service said the middle carriage of the passenger train caught fire at the old Armley railway station.

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